Back to Africa Check

No, Ugandan and US presidents did not have Twitter spat over anti-gay rights law, exchange fabricated

IN SHORT: As the fallout continues over a controversial law recently passed by Ugandan lawmakers, claims have been made on social media of an acrimonious exchange between three world leaders. It did not happen.

A screenshot of what appears to be a heated Twitter exchange on 24 March between the leaders of three countries has been shared on Facebook.

In it, US president Joe Biden reportedly threatens Uganda with economic sanctions unless the African country repeals a controversial anti-gay rights law.

“We are not scared of you, You will do nothing you idiots, We have Putin,” retorts Uganda president Yoweri Museveni 

Russian president Vladimir Putin replies: “I got you buddy.”

The claim was also published here.

On 21 March 2023, Ugandan lawmakers passed laws that make some offences punishable by death and impose sentences of up to life in prison for those who identify with the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

An anti-homosexuality law was passed in the nation in December 2013, but it was later overturned by a court on a technicality.

As of 29 March 2023, Museveni hadn't signed the law.

The country has already banned homosexual acts, after parliament in 2021 passed the controversial sexual offences bill.

Economic sanctions are financial and commercial penalties imposed by one or more nations on a particular state, group or individual. In addition to financial consequences, sanctions are also used for political, military and social purposes.

But did Biden really get into a Twitter spat with Museveni over the new law, and did Putin weigh in? We checked.


Signs the tweet and responses are fake

The tweets in the screenshot have grammatical errors, which would be uncharacteristic of communications from heads of state’s social media accounts.

All three accounts in the alleged interaction have blue verification marks next to their handles.

But in 2022 Twitter changed the verification checkmarks associated with governments and heads of state to grey.

The legitimate accounts associated with the three leaders all have grey checkmarks.

Also, Biden’s Twitter handle is @JoeBiden and not @Joe Biden as shown in the screenshot.

Putin does not have a personal verified account as the screenshot suggests. Instead the Twitter account with the username President of Russia and the handle @KremlinRussia_E has been used for official communication, although it last tweeted in March 2022.

Faruk Kirunda, the deputy press secretary to the Ugandan president, also posted the screenshot tweet with the words “FAKE, FAKE!!!”.

“ALERT! The general public: Please disregard this fake and misleading tweet. This is not H.E @KagutaMuseveni's account,” he wrote.

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.